The National: WELCOME to the latest edition of General Election Watch. This newsletter keeps its readers updated with the essential Scottish perspective on the ballot set to be held this year. We hope you enjoy it – and you can get the newsletter direct into your inbox for free every week by clicking HERE.

ANOTHER week brings another crushing by-election defeat – or two – for the Tories

Labour picked up two formerly safe Conservative seats, in the constituencies of Wellingborough and Kingswood.

Of course, there’s always the debate over how much by-elections can predict the outcome of the General Election.

But looking at the numbers, the signs aren’t exactly even slightly promising for Rishi Sunak’s party when the UK does go to the polls.

In Wellingborough, the by-election was held following a recall petition triggered by Tory Peter Bone’s six-week suspension from the House of Commons for bullying and sexual misconduct.

READ MORE: UK Parliament committee raises alarm over 'savagery' in Gaza

He had won the seat in 2019 with a hefty majority of 18,500.

The seat was reported to barely be on Labour’s campaign radar until recently and was a lowly 226th on their target list.

But on Friday, the party’s candidate Gen Kitchen (below) emerged as victor on a swing of 28.5%.

The National:

It goes down in history as the second-biggest swing since 1945 and the largest-ever drop in Tory vote share.

There was also a big swing in Kingswood, where the resignation of Tory MP Chris Skidmore resulted in a battle for the seat.

In the end, the Tories didn’t even land a soft thwack, with Labour picking up the seat thanks to a 16% swing.

As polling expert Professor John Curtice put it, the results suggest the Conservatives “have a mountain to climb”– but at the moment are still struggling to get even so far as base camp.

When it comes to the General Election, not every victory is likely to be as clear-cut, as fresh analysis in the Sunday National has revealed.

Based on an MRP poll published by YouGov in January, it shows there are 10 seats in Scotland which could turn out to be key battlegrounds, where the gap between the two largest parties’ vote share is 2% or less.

READ MORE: MPs urged to send ‘united message’ on SNP Gaza ceasefire motion

First Minister Humza Yousaf will be hoping the SNP pick up a large number so that he can take the party’s independence strategy forward.

But first he will have to make sure he always spells out clearly what that is – following criticism over an interview in which he spoke of the most rather than a majority of seats.

The SNP were in the headlines again after using a rare Opposition Day debate at Westminster to put forward a motion to demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

The move put Labour under huge pressure, and it follows a similar motion in November last year which saw a significant rebellion with 56 MPs defying leader Keir Starmer to back the SNP.

With a General Election looming ever nearer, the stakes were expected to be even higher and so it has proved to be the case – even before the results of the vote were known.

According to a report in Politico, Starmer addressed around 50 frontbenchers in a meeting the evening before the vote urging them to reject the SNP’s motion.

One reason, it stated, is that the Labour leader said he had to be “realistic” as he will be operating on the world stage if his party wins the keys to Downing Street.

Meanwhile, the debate itself was overshadowed by a furious row over the Opposition Day ceasefire motion, after speaker Lindsay Hoyle (below) selected both UK Government and Labour amendments – ultimately saving Labour from a rebellion threat.

The National:

It was the first time in Westminster's history that this has occurred on an Opposition Day, the clerk of the House has confirmed – calling it a "departure from long-established convention".

There have been reports – denied by Labour as “completely untrue” – that Hoyle had been left in “no doubt” that he would be voted out of his role after the General Election, unless he called the party’s amendment.

Among those commenting was SNP depute leader Keith Brown, who said: "The decision today to undermine Scotland's voice on a matter as grave as Gaza requires analysis of whether and how people in Scotland can expect any level of democratic input to a House of Commons where 'democratic principles' are decaying at a faster rate than the building itself."

The chaos of the Commons can perhaps be summarised in a pithy comment which came with news that division bells which used to sound in pubs and restaurants surrounding Westminster are fast disappearing.

The noise would alert MPs to stop eating and drinking and go to vote in the Commons – but the BBC reported barely a handful are working.

One pub staff member was reported as saying they were not sure why the bell was broken but it hadn’t been functioning for years.

"Just like our politicians,” they added.

Visit our interactive map for a seat-by-seat guide to the General Election